Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Organizing is in the blood of this Teamster family

As a Teamster organizer and a Durham School Services school bus driver, Shelley Goodman witnessed a lot of hardship in 21 years. She worked to alleviate it -- and to pass that torch to a new generation.

Goodman saw what happened to school bus drivers without a union. One school bus monitor sold her blood to make ends meet in Jacksonville, Fla. Goodman met her on an organizing drive.

A worker who had terminal cancer came to cast his vote in the Teamster election in Minnesota, so committed was he to a better future for his coworkers.

“I’ve witnessed all these battles,” Goodman told the audience of 1,000 Teamsters at the recent 2013 Teamsters Women’s Conference. “But there are two women who I would like to recognize today. They encouraged me to be an activist. They are my two daughters.”

The two sisters have the same fire as their mother to empower workers to better their working conditions and their lives.

Goodman said she is extremely proud of her daughters as she called on the audience of Teamsters to continue their fight and pass it on to the next generation.

Courtney Goodman Bell is a business agent with Local 777 in Chicago. Kacie Goodman Romero is a special education teacher in Louisiana and a chief shop steward working to organize and mobilize her coworkers.

Romero is learning from her mother and sister about empowering workers to stand up for their rights.

“I’m glad to be at the Teamsters Women’s Conference," Romero said. "Having moved from Illinois to Louisiana, a right-to-work state, I have a lot to learn about organizing and unions. I want to empower myself to help others.

Romero is one of five union members among a work force of 80. The teachers and staff have a growing interest in organizing, but also a fear of retribution from their employer.

Romero remembers workers coming to their house to talk to their mom, the fighter, she told the Teamster women at the conference. “Mom would go to her shop steward meetings and bring us along when we were little,” Romero said.

Bell said being in a union is ingrained in their family.
Our father was a union ironworker. When I was eight years old, Mom organized at her bus terminal. For us, it was common conversation at the dinner table.
Bell is the youngest daughter, but advises her sister on how to organize in her workplace.

“I’m a business agent and I represent school bus drivers, and I can explain to them, I rode a bus, too, with my Mom. I know the gratification and challenges of being a bus driver,” Bell said.